Thursday, February 2, 2012

What Happens When the Caretaking Partner Gets Sick?

She is in her late fifties. A financial planning executive with a successful bi-coastal business that requires frequent flying and rushed meals. While not athletic, she has always been active. In that out-of-nowhere way that illness sometimes hits, she came down with a systemic infection that flattened her and almost literally took her breath away. Sitting exhausted her, and any activity left her panting for air. She has been treated for the past six months with a combination of antibiotics, steroids, and rest. She is not who she was, and is still discovering who she can be.

Her husband has been a loving and attentive caretaker. He took charge of their interactions with the world - from grocery shopping to medical specialist hunting. When she was too exhausted to shower, he bathed her. He went to every doctor visit with her and remembered the information she was too distracted to hold onto. Her job was to rest and recover. He took care of everything else.

Then, he was clipped by a car while riding his bicycle. His ankle was broken. Now he is in pain, and his mobility is severely limited. And he feels rotten - for himself and for the ways in which he can no longer help her.

They are trying their best to be kind and loving to each other; that has always been their way. But pain and exhaustion take a toll on the best intentions.

They have a community of friends who are pitching in to help. And they have an excellent collection of take-out menus from restaurants that deliver.

Underneath the practical and emotional strains, they are strong, and they are scared. A lot - like laundry and work projects - doesn't get done. They look to the future for signs that things will get better because the present is one big ball of uncertainty and hurt.

Have you ever been in the situation where the caretaking partner got sick or had an accident? How did that affect your living situation? And what helped you cope?

1 comment:

lafaymom said...

I have had Chronic Pain for over 28 years and my husband picked up the slack but when my husband had a stroke (had already had a severe MI years earlier) things changed. I hired a housekeeper to first clean the house but then hired her to do more odd jobs my husband had done in the past. The repairs and fix up jobs around the house are done at a much slower pace (like years to get somethings done- so my expectations are changed) I also have my son who when home helps out. The most important person is my Therapist. I talk monthly with someone who helps me put things in perspective because I can get very angry and want to take that anger out on the closest person to me and that is my husband. This is not good for me or my husband.